BOSTON — Rubby De La Rosa and Fenway Park go together like lamb and tuna fish.
(Or maybe you’re more comfortable with a spaghetti and meatballs analogy?)
All “Big Daddy” references aside, De La Rosa has been phenomenal at Fenway Park this season, posting a 3-0 record and a 1.38 ERA in four home starts. The right-hander wasn’t overpowering Saturday in the Red Sox’s 2-1 win over the Kansas City Royals, but he buckled down when necessary to provide Boston with seven innings of one-run ball.
“He was at his best with men on base tonight,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game. “He may have issued a couple of more walks than we’ve seen, particularly here in Fenway, which he’s been outstanding anytime he’s taken the mound here at home. But even in a couple of situations where we gave an extra baserunner, he shut it down and pitched with a lot of poise tonight once again.”
De La Rosa’s four walks were the most he has allowed in a single outing with the Red Sox. He also scattered five hits. The Royals went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base, though, and De La Rosa’s effort ultimately was enough for the Red Sox, who received a big home run from Mike Napoli in the sixth inning, to earn their sixth win in seven games.
“We’ve had our fair share of one-run games. Let’s be honest. Of late, we’ve won a number of them here in Fenway, whether it’s the walk-off variety or shutting things down with Koji (Uehara) coming in in the ninth inning,” Farrell said. “But I don’t necessarily buy into the adage that all things even out, because you’re just blind faith sometimes (and) you’re expecting something good to happen (if you think that way). I think, once again, we’ve pitched extremely well. … When you can limit the opposition to one run, you’ve got a chance to make that hold up.”
De La Rosa has gone at least seven innings while yielding one or zero runs in four of his seven starts this season — only Jon Lester (five) has more such starts. De La Rosa’s work at Fenway continues to be his best, however, as he’s holding opponents to a .180 average (16-for-89) at home while feeling a certain level of comfort.
“It’s always fun to pitch here,” De La Rosa said after Saturday’s win. “I feel comfortable here. I like the mound here. I love the fans.”
De La Rosa was forced to pitch from the stretch quite frequently Saturday, as the Royals produced many baserunners. He didn’t skip a beat, which is another encouraging sign for a young hurler who clearly has the stuff to succeed and who is firmly establishing himself as a big league pitcher with each passing start.
“I don’t try to think about how many men are on base,” De La Rosa said. “When I have men on base, I just try to think like the bases are empty and go get the next hitter.”
De La Rosa’s two strikeouts against the Royals were the fewest he has had in a start in his major league career, and his only 1-2-3 inning was his seventh and final frame. De La Rosa showed an ability to grind out a victory, though, and the home cooking he’s enjoying at Fenway Park bodes well for the pitcher’s very bright future in Boston.